Working together to strengthen education

State Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R-LD28) is championing Senate Bill 1394, the Charter School Transparency and Accountability Act, in an effort strengthen oversight of public charter schools.

The bill focuses on governance, financial transparency and procurement for public charter schools. The proposal requires each charter school to adopt procurement policies; requires a charter school sponsor to compile and post on a public website outlined information for each school it sponsors and outlines membership and training requirements for a charter school governing body.

Both Republican and Democratic legislators signed onto the bill, and it received bipartisan support in the Senate Education Committee. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman also registered her support.

“I was happy to have the opportunity to meet with Sen. Brophy-McGee and offer my input on S.B. 1394, and I want to thank her for working across the aisle during the amendment process,” Hoffman said.  “This legislation is a positive step in the right direction, but charter accountability can and should go further. I’m encouraged by budget proposals to expand the Charter Board staff to provide more oversight and supports to charter schools and the communities they serve. As I’ve said, the primary responsibility of charter schools is to educate students, not profit at the expense of our communities.”

State Rep. César Chávez (D) did not sign onto S.B. 1394 but expressed his support throughout the development of the bill.

“I’m very happy to see that Democrats and Republicans can come together to have a conversation. There’s a lot of work to be done,” Chávez said. “My hope is that we can set aside our differences, politically speaking, and work on something that’s meaningful for the state, work on something that only benefits the parents and the students and nobody else. We can no longer sit here and fight for one actor or another and pin ourselves against each other. We need to fight for the main foundation of education and that’s children, that’s our teachers, that’s our educators and our parents.”

Working together is key to providing a public education system that benefits Arizona students.

“What this is going to do is it’s going to provide the children of the state of Arizona an opportunity to really get a high-quality education,” Chávez said.

He noted that both public district schools and public charter schools have “bad actors” that have hindered the process of coming together and finding solutions to the issue.

“I think that what the act is going to do if it continues to go through the legislative process is provide students with high-quality education because we’re going to be able to weed out those bad actors,” Chávez explained.

S.B. 1394 is geared to strengthen the functionality, transparency and accountability of Arizona charter schools which will give students and families more options when choosing a fitting education path.

“We need to address that parents should have the right to choose the best education for their children,” Chávez said. “I am not a parent, but I know that if I had children, I would send them to the best possible education that I could have accessibility to.”

S.B. 1394 is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Sierra Ciaramella

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